Recently Fritz Ober has become very interested in deep body resonance guitars; very much in the style of many produced by Antonio de Torres and Hermann Hauser I. He doesn’t like to imitate or reproduce any specific instrument but has a design and sounds in his mind that are a blend of the best of Hauser but with more deep-tuned bass influence of some of the deeper Torres guitars. The plantilla of these guitars is very close to Hermann Hauser but with minor adjustments from plantillas of Manuel Ramirez and Torres; many of which were very similar to one-another.
Fritz has produced one very specific copy of the famous Torres guitar – La Leona; and like the original, has a very deep body air resonance around D. This particular Fritz Ober guitar has been used in recitals by Wulfin Lieske who has recorded with the La Leona original.
He has also produced a guitar similar to a Torres, in the hands of a German collector, with a soundhole tornovoz. Although the plantilla of the reproduction was Fritz’s own, the sound quality is very similar to the Torres. One of Fritz’s recent challenges is to produce similar instruments with deep resonance without resorting to using a tornovoz.
Whilst being fascinated with these deeper resonance instruments, Fritz aims to produce guitars with a strength and fullness of treble required by today’s performers – and in that quest, he seems to be rather successful. Another way he thinks about this is the production of guitars that have the ‘old character’ but with the flexibility and strength in the treble to be suitable also for more modern repertoire.
Fritz started to make a limited number of guitars based on old master makers from about ten years ago. Today he is sure he is getting much closer to the sound qualities of those that he is reproducing than he was ten years ago.
Fritz Ober has a spacious workshop near the old centre of Munich, barely fifteen minutes walk to the site of Hermann Hauser I’s workshop which sadly was demolished many years ago to make way for opening up the city centre. Born in 1955, Fritz learned to play guitar at an early age and later, in his early twenties, made two guitars following instruction from lutherie books, for himself to play. His family had a small workshop in their house from where they made items of furniture for the family home. From his father and uncle, Fritz also developed an ability and enjoyment of woodcraft. He later was able to take a two-year apprenticeship with Helmut Buchsteiner in Bavaria, learning instrument-making. Based on a lute he had made for his apprenticeship test-piece, he received an order for another lute as his first commission. When then deciding to make instruments for a living, he tended to make early instruments of the lute family and 19th century-style guitars such as Panormo-style for some years as at that stage he had not really experienced classical guitars of the 20th century master-makers. Today he believes the skills he learned, particularly from lute-making, have equipped him with the techniques needed for the making of more-refined 20th century guitars.
As is so often the case, as his reputation spread, he was approached to repair and restore many guitars from the old masters of which there are many in Germany. Exposure to these instruments without doubt influenced his tastes and direction as a builder.